Looking for a way to begin a conversation on the upcoming elections? Look no further than President Squid, written by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Sara Varon, and published by Chronicle Books. Humor abounds in this fabulous read aloud enlivened by Varon's expressive sea creatures. Today, the third graders and I read this amusing take on the presidency and politics and President Squid had the students laughing out loud when they were not guffawing at the puns and jokes.
This election, you have another option
Squid believes he has all of the qualities needed to be the leader of the free world:
1) Presidents wear ties!
2) The President has the biggest house ever!
3) Presidents are famous!
4) Presidents get to do all the talking!
5) The President is the BIG BOSS!
(I would add as a sixth quality...the ability to glad-hand many supporters at the same time.)
Squid's misguided Presidential qualifications will launch a meaningful discussion on what makes a good President. I decided to begin that meaningful conversation by having the students share what they know about the Presidency.
The students used a Presidential Padlet wall to post their ideas and understandings around the Presidency of the United States: the qualifications for the job, the responsibilities of the job, and the qualities that would be needed in the job. Using the Padlet gave the students an opportunity to practice using the communication tool and allowed for each students to have a voice in the conversation. After the posts were finished we read through them. I shared that, given what I was reading, I had great hope for our country. I am so impressed by what they already know at this young age. Too bad they can't vote this year...
Reading President Squid after this building on context, background knowledge, and understanding worked well for my students, although, the book stands perfectly well on its own and will be enjoyed by many a reader!
A funny side note, the students in all four classes made instantaneous connections to a certain candidate in this year's election. This book was written long before these candidates hit the trail, so it is purely coincidental.